British Masters: Danny Willett hoping to be the host with the most at The Belfry

The Englishman thrashed a brilliant second round 65 to give himself the chance of contending for the title at the weekend.

This is the eighth British Masters in the "hosted" era and the stars who have added their name to the event have struggled on the course.

Asked earlier this week how Danny Willett would be feeling as the tournament host, Lee Westwood, who undertook the duties in 2017 and 2020, said: "Tired. There's obviously a lot more to do, a lot more press and sponsor engagements, and stuff like that.

"He'll want to play well, but it's not often the host plays very well. There's too many things to think about."

The stats back that up. The hosts are 2-for-7 at landing top 10s with Justin Rose's eighth in 2018 the best effort yet. Willett was T11th last year.

When he opened this week's challenge at The Belfry with a 3-over-par front nine on Thursday an improvement seemed highly unlikely.

"I was giggling to myself," he admitted, some 24 hours later, after signing for a 65 that left him 6-under for the week and inside the top 10 at the halfway stage.

"I think we were 99th on the 16th green last night and then I looked up today and we were fifth. It's a pretty decent effort in 18 holes of golf."

In fact it was 10 birdies in 23 holes which repaired the early damage and, even after making bogey at his 18th hole on Friday, he was more than happy.

"Yesterday was a little bit of a kick in the nuts when I was a few over and it didn't seem like I should be," he said. "The golf isn't far off and I haven't shot a really low one in a while so it was nice."

Can he push on at the weekend and maybe even become the first host to triumph?

"It would be amazing to win the British Masters regardless of whether you're hosting or not," he said. "It's a big event, there's been some great winners, some great hosts.

"But to be able to pass myself the trophy would be a pretty cool experience. There's still a long way to go but we can all hope and dream."

The surprise pace-setter on the Brabazon Course is Germany's Hurly Long, who added a 68 to his opening lap of 67 for a 9-under total of 9-under to lead by one from Thorbjorn Olesen (66-70), Richie Ramsay (67-69) and Marcus Kinhult (70-66).

And Westwood? He could manage nothing better than a 74 to miss the cut.

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